Idaho (0-3) at Washington State (2-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 21, 10:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Martin Stadium (32,248) -- Pullman, Washington. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Idaho 0-1, WSU 1-0. Away Record: Idaho 0-2, WSU 1-1. Neutral Record: Idaho 0-0, WSU 0-0. Conference Record: Idaho 0-0, WSU 1-0. Series Record: Washington State leads, 70-17-3.
GAME NOTES: Familiar foes get together on Saturday night, as the Washington State Cougars play host to the Idaho Vandals in non-conference action at Martin Stadium in Pullman.
Washington State, which began the 2013 campaign with a 31-24 setback at Auburn, has responded with back-to-back wins since. The Cougars first took care of nationally-ranked USC on the first Saturday of September, 10-7, on the road in the Pac-12 Conference opener, and then demolished Southern Utah last weekend in a 48-10 romp at home as well.
Unfortunately for the Vandals and new head coach Paul Petrino, they haven't been anywhere near as fortunate in the early going, losing all three of their outings thus far. The team first suffered a 40-6 loss at North Texas, followed by a 42-10 defeat at the hands of Wyoming, and then last weekend the squad came up short versus Northern Illinois, 45-35, in the home opener.
With the loss to NIU, the Vandals have now fallen in nine straight outings, with just one victory overall since the start of the 2012 campaign.
Idaho trails in the all-time series, one that dates back more than a century, by a count of 70-17-3.
Sporting one of the weakest scoring defenses in the nation, allowing in excess of 40 ppg after two outings, the Vandals went back to the drawing board and found no answers during their matchup against Northern Illinois. Granted, Idaho did move out to a 21-7 lead moments into the second quarter versus the Huskies, but the hosts were outscored 38-14 the rest of the way.
Idaho gave up 508 yards of total offense, having a particularly tough time stopping the run as the Huskies raced to 356 yards and three TDs. The Vandals did benefit from NIU being called for 11 penalties, amounting to a loss of 107 yards, but even that was not enough to turn the tide in the second half.
Quarterback Chad Chalich was under constant pressure, completing 14-of-25 passes through the air for 236 yards and two scores, but he was also sacked seven times. The only Vandal to catch more than two passes was Dezmon Epps, who turned eight receptions into 106 yards. James Baker gained 73 yards on the ground, accounting for two rushing TDs and another through the air.
Chalich has completed a solid 65.5 percent of his pass thus far, averaging 216.0 ypg, and he has tossed three touchdowns without an interception, but still the Idaho offense is stagnant. Epps has the bulk of the receptions with 22 for 261 yards, yet he hasn't made his way into the end zone, even though he has 14 more catches than his closest teammate.
The bottom line for the Vandals is that they are averaging just 17.0 ppg, tied for 109th in the country this week, while giving up a hefty 42.3 ppg which is tied for 117th. Needless to say, the scoring differential has to change dramatically if the Vandals hope to be competitive anytime soon.
As for the Cougars, they traded scores with Southern Utah early on during their meeting last Saturday, but eventually WSU put it altogether on both sides of the ball, outscoring the visitors 34-0 from the second quarter on.
Offensively, the star of the game for the Cougars was quarterback Connor Halliday who converted 32-of-41 pass attempts for 383 yards and five touchdowns. Dominique Williams, one of 10 players to catch a pass for WSU, turned his three receptions into 101 yards and a pair of scores.
Defensively, Damante Hornton got in on the scoring when he returned an interception 72 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. WSU had three picks in the game, which might explain why this is the top pass defense in the country right now, allowing a paltry 99.7 ypg through the air.
As great as the secondary has been for the Cougars, it still doesn't completely offset the fact that WSU barely has a presence in the running game on offense, generating just 60.3 ypg which ranks 121st in the country.
While the team averages just 2.9 yards per rush, Halliday is also someone who has his flaws, having thrown just as many interceptions (six) as touchdowns.
Even though these teams have a lengthy history with each other, this is not one of those cases where a rivalry could take on a life of its own and previous play during the season should be discounted. Simply put, the Vandals are nowhere near as good as the Cougars and that should be rather evident early in the first quarter.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington State 49, Idaho 17
09/18 10:50:12 ET